It may appear that the surviving members of the Beastie Boys are to spend their remaining days entangled in some sort of copyright lawsuit. Given their recent streak of being on the favorable end of the sound of a judge’s gavel, that may not be a bad thing.
The label TufAmerica filed suit against the three-man collective on May 3, 2012, accusing them of doing some illegal lifting that helped make their 1989 album Paul’s Boutique the classic it would live on to be. There haven’t been motions of denial on the Beasties part that they used Trouble Funk songs, “Say What” and “Let’s Get Small,” on the album and a judge saw the case had legs and refused to dismiss it. Still, the notorious litigious label may not be going far in the particular legal battle.
In 1984, Trouble Funk signed away the rights to their music to Island, which was reexamined and affirmed in 1989. Trouble Funk members James Avery and Tony Fisher admitted to these very same findings in during one of the early dispositions in the case.
“Since Island became the owner of the ‘Let’s Get Small’ and ‘Say What’ recordings in 1984, Mr. Reed and Mr. Fisher had no ability to convey any rights to TufAmerica in 1999, let alone exclusive rights sufficient to confer standing under the Copyright Act,” states Universal’s summary judgment motion.
The music industry has been known to trip up many an artist with loopholes in contracts and as it stands today, the Beasties are poised to run away with this one.
Rap music has definitely paid off as the chosen career choice for Ad-Rock and Mike D.